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Which? Trusted traders' tips on installing LED lighting

LED lighting is designed to be long-lasting and energy-efficient, potentially saving you money on your bills over time as you use less energy. We talked to our Which? Trusted traders to find out more.
hand holding LED light

LED lighting for the home

Light Emitting Diode or LED lights use a fraction of the energy of traditional bulbs, are cheap to run, and are claimed to last nearly 10 times longer. The technology has been around for years, but it’s only recently that LED lighting has been widely taken up, as the price of the individual bulbs has fallen significantly.

LED lighting is not the same as ‘energy-saving’ light bulbs, which are technically known as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The CFLs will take time to warm up, whereas LED lights are at full strength immediately. Martin Grant, from Grant’s Electrical Services, said: ‘There is some confusion between the two, but we only fit LED lighting now.’

LED lamps reach full brightness instantly when turned on, and come in a full range of colours, with three different shades of white – warm white, natural white and cool white. ‘Warm white is similar in tone to incandescent light bulbs,’ Nigel Male of Which? Trusted trader N E Electrical Services told us, ‘so it’s ideal for around the house. Cool white can look a bit clinical but can be useful in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, where you want a different quality of light.’

Although LED bulbs are more expensive to buy in the first place, they are much more efficient to run, so can save you money in the long term.  The Which? guide to choosing the right  type of light bulb has more information about brightness, colour and the different types available.

Benefits of LED lights

The main advantage of LED lights is that they use so little energy, but produce great-quality light.

They stay cool, so are ideal as downlights or spotlights on ceilings, as they significantly reduce the overheating and fire risk you get with other bulbs.

The different colours mean they work for a number of different environments and installations.

Grant’s Electrical Services’ Martin Grant added: ‘Another important factor with LED lighting is that the majority will be mains voltage (230V) or have a driver built in to the fitting already. This means there is only one component – either the fitting or the lamp – that can fail, making maintenance easier for the customer.’

Which? Trusted Traders endorses skilled traders to take the worry out of choosing the right business for your home improvements and car maintenance.

Things to consider

Where to buy

Watch out for super-cheap LED lights on the internet. ‘You get what you pay for on the whole,’ Nigel Male told us. ‘Cheap bulbs can be a false economy. Look at going with a named brand or get them from a reputable wholesaler.’

You can buy direct from your Which? Trusted Traders-endorsed electrician, who should get a wholesale price and be able to give a guarantee. Which? has tested a number of different bulbs – you can find out more about the Which? LED Best Buys.

Dimmer switches

You will need special dimmable LED lamps, plus an LED-compatible dimmer switch.

‘Dimming across all types of LED lights isn’t perfect yet,’ Martin Grant explained. ‘When you change your lights over to LED lights, you’ll usually need to change your dimmer, too. As a rule of thumb, we use the same brand for the dimmer as for the lamp and fitting.’

Lights in bathrooms

LED lights fitted in bathrooms must be IP rated, which means they're safe to use should they come into contact with condensation or water.

Separate sensors for floodlights

‘LED bulbs will last a long time in security lights – often longer than the sensor that triggers them,’ Nigel Male said. ‘We recommend that you don’t buy a combined unit for that reason. If you have a separate sensor you can replace it, without having to throw away the expensive LED light fitting.

Find a qualified electrician to help with your LED lighting installation with Which? Trusted Traders.

Typical costs

LED lighting has come down in price steadily over the past few years.

  • Mains voltage GU10 lamps are around £4 each.
  • A good-quality integrated LED fitting would be £18-30
  • A 20W security light with PIR (passive infra-red sensor) should cost around £30. 

Installation costs

Installation costs will vary, depending on how individual traders cost their work. Some will work on a call-out charge plus hourly rate, while others will give a rate for the whole job. Our electricians estimated it would cost £275-440 excluding VAT to replace old strip lighting in a kitchen with LED downlighters.

There will be regional variations and possible additional costs to cover parking, transport and waste disposal. Find out more in our guide to electrician’s costs.

Another factor that can affect the price is how easy it is to access the lights.

Nigel Male said: ‘If you want to install downlighters, it can all be done from down below, depending on the angle of the ceiling joists. It becomes more expensive if you have to lift carpets, floorboards etc and access the ceiling from above.’

If there is a substantial rewire or disruption to the plaster involved, you will have to factor in plastering costs, too.

In 2013, based on the assumption that your electrical installation complies with the current regulations and all circuits already have RCD protection, electrician Tony Byrne supplied the following prices for LED lighting installation.

To Supply and fit an external 8 watt floodlight with movement sensor:

  • if replacing the existing floodlight - £100 approx.
  • if starting from scratch without existing power - £180 approx.

To Supply and fit six 6 watt LED downlights

All labour costs exclude VAT. Costs based on job within local area and easy access to an existing electricity source.


Typical overall cost



• If replacing existing halogen lamp with 6 watt LED lamp (non dimmable)




• If replacing existing halogen downlights completely (non dimmable)




• If replacing existing traditional rose and pendant (non dimmable)




Supply and fit 6W IP-rated downlights (dimmable)  11W LED complete fitting




Prices would be slightly higher for fitting IP rated LED lights in a bathroom because of the increased cost of the IP rated lamps

If you would like to replace your light fittings with LED lamps, why not call one of our Which? Trusted Traders endorsed electricians for a quote.

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